Vail’s Colorful Cooking column: A protein-packed meal
September 25, 2012
Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a six week series about quick and healthy dishes using either chicken or eggs. Visit http://www.vaildaily.com for the first story.
The U.S. poultry industry processes about 8 billion chickens each year. No surprise, right? Chicken is a healthy, low fat, protein packed meat that is universally enjoyed, inexpensive and pretty simple to cook.
Chicken breasts are the most popular cut of chicken. Stuff this simple cut with herbs and goat cheese to create a fresh flavor. Pair the dish with a lemon kale salad and you have a colorful, quick dinner full of nutrition.
Labels on packaged chickens can be nutritionally confusing: all natural, hormone free, free range, air chilled. After endless research, buying a chicken with the label USDA Organic is your best bet. The USDA Organic stamp requires that the bird eats organic feed that doesn’t contain animal by-products, has outdoor access and has not been injected with antibiotics. Log onto Colorfulcooking.com where I simplify all the labeling mumbo jumbo, offer insight about how processing affects taste and share the lemon kale salad recipe.
Looking for a quick appetizer? Eggs make for a tasty party appetizer. To mix it up a bit, stuff eggs with lobster, creating a chewy texture that blends nicely with the smooth hard boiled egg and creamy middle. Serve with a side of celery to freshen your breath and clean your teeth.
Herb chicken breasts
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2 chicken breasts
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons each fresh chive, basil, parsley, finely diced
1 Tablespoons fresh mint, finely diced
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 ounces goat cheese or cream cheese
1/8 cup shallot, diced
1/4 cup chicken broth or white wine
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Slice two rounds of goat cheese, once ounce each, and place in freezer. Mix salt and pepper in a small ramekin. In another ramekin, combine diced herbs and walnuts. Butterfly chicken and season all sides with salt and pepper mixture. To butterfly: cut fat off chicken and lay it on a cutting board. Place one hand on top of the chicken and using a sharp knife, slice the chicken in half horizontally, keeping a 1/2-inch piece intact. When you open the chicken it looks like a butterfly. You should be able to open it like a book.
Heat saucepan over med high, drizzle with canola oil. Cook the inside of the chicken breast for 1 minute, covered. Remove chicken from pan, place raw side down. Reduce heat to medium low. Chop the cheese into cubes and place them in the fold of the open, cooked side of the chicken breast. Layer half the herb mixture onto the cheese, close with toothpicks, repeat with the next breast. Add chicken and onions to the warm pan, cook four minutes, uncovered, stirring onions once. Flip chicken, pour in wine or broth and lemon juice. Cover and simmer for 8 minutes until the chicken is 165-degrees. Serve with a side salad.
Lobster stuffed eggs
12 hard boiled eggs
10 ounches cooked lobster meat, chopped small
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Celery sticks (garnish)
Hard boil eggs by placing the eggs in a large pot. Gently fill the pot with cool water, covering eggs by 1 inch. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a light boil. This will take 15 minutes. Once small bubbles appear, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn heat off, let eggs sit in warm water 12 to 15 minutes. Place eggs under cold water and let cool.
Peel and slice eggs in half. There is an air bubble on one end of the egg, start the peeling process there for best results.
Put egg yolks in a bowl and mix with mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir until creamy. Fold in chopped lobster. Spoon 1 Tablespoon mixture into each half of egg. Sprinkle each egg with smoked paprika and cool.
Tracy Miller adds fruits and veggies to all her meals, for more recipes visit colorfulcooking.com. She teaches cooking classes at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards and shares recipes Monday mornings on TV8.